Sleep is such an important part of our lives but many people have a love-hate relationship with it. Sleep problems or lack of sleep can have many negative impacts to our life and it is essential to do everything we can to try and make sure we get the sleep our body needs on a regular basis.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, what are some techniques that may help? And if you wake up, how can you fall back asleep?
Try a new breathing technique
Our breathing has a large role in regulating our nervous system, which in turn regulates our heartbeat, muscle tension and other parts of our body for relaxation. Slow breathing can be calming and teach our body there is nothing to fear so it can relax. A technique developed by Dr Andrew Weil has been shown to be beneficial for boosting relaxation, it is called the 4-7-8 method. Here’s how to do it:
- Place the tip of the tongue against the skin behind the upper front teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise
- Exhale completely
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 7 counts
- Exhale out your mouth for 8 counts
You may want to practise this exercise sitting before lying down. If you are not able to hold your breath for that long you can alter the exercise to suit you, the important thing is to have the holding of breath slightly longer than the inhale and the exhale slightly longer than the holding.
Daydream with a purpose
Many people struggle with unwanted thoughts or worries which can keep them awake, so instead of letting your mind wander, why not control your daydreams to help relax you. You can try visualising somewhere peaceful and calming and explore this in depth in your mind. Or you could try visualising yourself doing something that is positive but also repetitive, like throwing a ball. Taking control of your daydreams can help put your mind at ease before falling asleep.
Try not to put pressure on yourself
Sometimes when we try to do something, our brains can backfire and actually do the opposite. Similar to reverse psychology, taking your attention off sleep can actually help you to fall asleep. If you find you can’t stop thinking about sleeping, why not put a relaxing audio book on or music in the background to distract you.
Write a to-do list before getting into bed
With so much going on in our lives, it is common for overthinking and worrying to keep people up at night. Instead of getting into bed and thinking about this, take 5 minutes before bed to do a ‘brain dump’ of your thoughts, worries and plans for the next day. Writing this down can help you to stop overthinking, calm down and relax before bed.